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Album Review

Compilations of the Chordettes usually emphasize their mid- to late-'50s recordings, when they made the transition from mainstream pop vocalists to mild rock & roll, of sorts. This anthology is a little different, as it's weighted toward their early-'50s recordings, its 16 tracks drawn from the years 1951-1955. Most audibly, the earliest of these tracks — which comprise much of Close Harmony — are done in an a cappella barbershop style, without any instrumentation. While the harmonies on those numbers are undeniably impressive, the material and vocal arrangements are unquestionably more dated and corny. The addition of backup music in the mid-'50s, even if it was light, really helped make the recordings stronger, as heard on their huge hit "Mr. Sandman," (included here). From slightly later, "The Wedding" (also included) moves toward a fairly credible doo wop-influenced style, though it's not typical of the tracks selected for this collection. Close Harmony is thus recommended primarily for serious Chordettes fans who want some representation of their earliest work, not for those who want one best-of CD covering their most popular recordings. Note, incidentally, that this is not a reissue of their 1955 Cadence LP, also titled Close Harmony, which has a different selection of tracks.


Formed: 1946 in Sheboygan, WI

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s

The Chordettes were one of the longest-lived vocal groups with roots in the mainstream pop and vocal harmonies of the 1940s and early '50s. Although the four women's arrangements owed more to the Andrews Sisters than doo wop, they did, unlike many of their peers, prove fairly adaptable to the rock era. First establishing themselves with the huge (and non-rock) pop hit "Mr. Sandman" in 1954, they continued to chart in the last half of the '50s and the early '60s, often with covers of rock and R&B...
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Close Harmony, The Chordettes
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